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May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – a month to recognize the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
USA Truck recognizes the achievements and celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Asian American and Pacific Islander history is American history. Every aspect of life, including arts, literature, culture, science, and more, has been positively impacted.
The month was the brainchild of Jeanie Jew, a former Capitol Hill staffer, who shared the idea with Rep. Frank Horton, who introduced the legislation that formed it.
According to Time Magazine, Jew’s great grandfather, M.Y. Lee, left China for the United States in the 1800s before he helped build the transcontinental railroad. Lee became a prominent businessman in California and later traveled to Oregon. He was killed during a period of unrest and anti-Asian sentiment.
In 1977, Horton introduced a resolution that would establish Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week. Sen. Daniel Inouye introduced similar legislation to the Senate.
In the following year, Horton, with co-sponsor Rep. Norman Mineta, introduced another related resolution that passed. President Jimmy Carter signed it in October of 1978.
The resolution “authorized and requested” the president to proclaim the 7-day period beginning May 4, 1979 as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. It also called on Americans, and especially educators, to observe the week with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
Congress later passed legislation to extend the observance to a month in 1990. Two years later, Congress passed another public law to annually designate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
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